Posts Tagged ‘art’

Dan Zen – Memories of a Performer, Patron, Participator, Practitioner, Planter, Pollinator and Partier

March 8, 2015

WARNING – LOCAL CONTENT! Hamilton is experiencing a cultural growth led by an organic happening called the Art Crawl.  With organics, we have seeds.  I would like to honor the seeds I have seen and sewn in the growth of our culture. Education is often at the root of culture and that in-part was my introduction into the arts – through the scene at McMaster University.  Despite being an Engineer, I hung out in the Art’s cafeteria so partied with artists, hung out with musicians, etc.  I made art, made music, put on shows, etc. during the 80s.  Hey, and did the same during the 90s – oh… and the 2000s and here we are in the 10s and we are still going.  Before me… I am sure there were scenes. I like scenes – I nurture scenes and do my utmost to promote and welcome people.  Perhaps, that is my lot in life.  I have always liked a good game, a good party, a social happening – unabashedly meeting people and introducing people – breaking down inhibitions.  So, let’s check out some of these events.  As much as possible, I will relate these to the James Street area and in each case, we should remember these as seeds and their organizers as planters, their attendees as pollinators, etc. I hosted some dances in the 80s during my Goth phase – then called Bat Caver.  There was a guy called AD who also hosted an event called Nekropolis and that happened on King William, where later in 1994, Thee Gnostics were the house act at Hep Mondays at the X-Club run by Darren (but I have skipped ahead).  After university, in 1986, I went to Europe for 9 months – another way to grow is to travel, and then we spread culture.  I came back and brought back with me a mod / psychedelic outlook and started doing dances called Op Hops.  One of these was at Patsy’s Banquet Hall on James in 1988. ophop2 Somewhen around that time, there was a band called All Together Morris whose lead singer Glen Marshall had a studio space on James along side Denise Lisson’s gallery studio across from Jackson Square – so the first scene I recall on James St.   However, one of my earliest Hamilton cool memories from the seventies was of the record shop on the corner of James and King upstairs – might have to ask Bob Bryden about that.  There was also Susan George over in the warehouses by Beasley and various cool warehouse art parties. The Hamilton Artists Inc was located on James Street the seventies across from where Mixed Media is now and then on James by the Wild Orchid where RoseAnne worked and then on Vine and then over above Gallery on the Bay and then on Colbourne near where the Art Bar is currently just off of James and now in its fantastic new location at James and Cannon. We solute the board members and volunteers of this scene – Paul, Judy, RoseAnne, Ian, Donna, Michael, Philip, Tor, Ivan, Douglas, and many more. We were in at the Vine location before the Artists Inc. with a really cool art beatnik hang-out with Gaven, Stavros, Lorraine, RoseAnne and the Chessmen played there at my Stag.  Earlier, Tomas, Lorraine, Walter and Zena had the Synagog on Cannon with their band, Sublimatus.  Gaven and I put on the Figmentalisticanarianismist show there in 1991. fig_s Around the same time, I had a piece in a large group show at the Liuna Station on James – kind of.  Many artists around. During Thee Gnostics time, the cool kids were hanging around Hess Village and we played the village a number of times.  But the cooler kids were starting to think elsewhere and look for a new music / art scene.  We went to Barton and Thee Gnostics had a great flat above an old post office as head quarters.  Tomas, Gaven and Lorraine lived there and I hung out there almost daily and of course, there was James and Cosmic Ray.  We connected with Elis and Dennis – who hung out with Francis.  They started the Gallery 435 speak easy hang out and it is still going waiting for the artists to finally come to Barton when the rent gets too high on James.  We were looking for a place for a scene and visited the Westinghouse building in hopes for it to become the new Rochdale. As Thee Gnostics we also played on James at Bauka‘s studio – can’t remember quite where that was – it was on a South East corner maybe James and Rebecca possibly York or Cannon.  As well as excellent warehouses – Johny Angel on John for the Egypt Vishnurama.  John and Jesse had a cool little place on Hughson I think and King William. The Double Feature Creatures were hanging around – Christine Leakey, RoseMary, Julia.  Art parties at the greenpeace houses – Chris – the old Jewelry place on York, etc.  And as mentioned, the Hep Mondays at the X-Club on King William right on the pre edge of the happening alternative club scene with Home Grown, Absinth and Baltimore House.  That building will be amazing if it ever opens again.  There was Psonic Unyon too on York and we did dances in that building with the mods – Samantha, Andrea, Valerie, Erin, Andre, Gaven, Sandy and shows at this amazing Chinese Playhouse upstairs on James around Rebecca – amazing place that and totally underutilized in our current environment.  Oh, and how could I forget – the Tivoli – before the front was taken down – the auditorium is still there.  Thee Gnostics played there watched by Chris, Lilly, Lisa – and others. When Barton took too long we actively were establishing a scene on John StreetJohn and Andrea Deal started the GAG Gallery in the space where previously, Mark Byk, Peter and Kristine lived and where we beatnik-partied like crazy!  Later at the GAG we held the first Interactive Interactive show in 2003.  We also held the No Escape Artathon where we locked artists up in the gallery for 48 hours.  I MC’d that event to live web casting.  I met Steve Mazza, Laura Hollick, Len Jessome, all who have gone on to great artistic heights in Hamilton.  Many others too – Martin, Matt, etc.  Bob has some pictures from around that time – would be great to see them.  I planned to stage an Art theft to get people in the Suburbs to pay attention to arts in the city. ii I ran Interactive Interactive shows with Sheridan and McMaster Interactive Media at the Artist Inc for the next four years 2004, 2005, 2006 with the last one in 2007.  It was just too hard to get media and people from the suburbs to come plus we started doing open houses in Toronto and packing everything twice at the end of the year was too hard.  Here is a shot of James Street in 2007 with Mixed Media and the Factory at their old locations and Dane’s Loose Cannon where I usually purchased something each visit.  I was at the first meet to discuss the Factory – it was held in the Artists Inc above Gallery on the Bay.  And I certainly remember Mixed Media in their old place with Dave and Teresa – I donated a cool 50s boomerang chair and Ottoman.  During the mid 2000’s I also MC’d a number of Artists Inc events with Sky Gilbert and Matt Jelly like the Sin Circus at Worker’s Heritage building where Brian Kelly works and prior to that there were the Fetish Fashion Shows with Sue Phipps and Ian James the last of which took place somewhere on James – was it the Chinese Playhouse (not really called a playhouse – would love to find that again!). james Well… that’s enough name and place dropping for now – doubt anyone gets this far but good memories and really would like to honor all the folks that have made Hamilton so much fun.  Keep at it – would like to tell the story of early Art Crawls but will leave that for another post.  I am just glad a self sustaining art scene has finally arrived so we don’t have to work as hard!  Our garden is growing – Gardener Russ would be happy – hi Russ! — 15 — PP – Please forgive me if I left anyone out – or even give me a comment!  This was all from the top of my head so I may have mixed some details.  Again, it is how I remember the past as it relates to James Street N and Art – there was certainly much more going on all over – art on James S,  Kevin McKay‘s early SkyDragon scene, music scene at the Corktown, Dundas art scenes, etc.  but I tried to focus on perhaps some forgotten seeds leading to our current wonderful scene on James.

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Interactive Op Art – Opartica

April 8, 2008

Opartica Op Ar Tool

Just making sure that anyone searching online for interactive op art tool will find Opartica at http://www.opartica.com. Opartica is a fully interactive optical art maker that lets you spin and overlap shapes like rays, concentric circles and squares, zig zags, and spirals. You can change color and centers. It was built some time ago as a first Flash feature in 2001.  Still works and gets lots of hits etc.

Mixing Interactive Works

March 13, 2008

Much like we have a DJ for audio and a VJ for video, we will have an IJ for mixing interactive works. These interactive mixes will be on our walls within ten years with OLED technology. OLED Walls.

Meta stories and games will be played out through the mixes. Games of follow the leader, quests, mazes, hunts, rallies, chases, tag.

ZEN MIX
Zen Mix (http://www.zenmix.com) is a tool that was specifically built to mix interactive works. In the original Zen Mix it is not so apparent because people are seeing the outcome of creations. But in the tool, the elements of the creation are interactive. So when I am in the Zen Mix tool I put Opartica (the Op Art tool) on top of Zen Picture (sliding picture viewer) then I can operate both of them and even have a video blended with the results. This is the place to be. Not just watching, but doing, exploring and creating.

SCENARIO
The IJ would be responsible for starting people off. Scenario: here’s an oldie from 2001, Opartica, mixed overtop of the latest branching music video from Vincent Morisset. Each branch of the video brings in associated Zen Pan of overlayed backgrounds. Zen Pan pans across pictures and other interactive works such as Zen Picture Zoom.

In the above scenario, people can watch it all happen or they can use Opartica to change the patterns over the video. When their mouse causes the video to branch, Zen Pan comes in which could be operable through transparent parts of Opartica or perhaps Opartica is faded out (prompted by a shared event). When Zen Pan shows Zen Picture, they can zoom in and out on pictures and wave their mouse to go to other pictures. One of the pictures might be a Zen Deck filled with further interactive works. Clicking on one of these might fade out or ZoomExit the prior interactive works and start you in a fresh set of environments. Personal meta navigation will be available to go back.

ZEN MIX 2
The new Zen Mix (Zen Mix 2) will be like a browser with multiple pages stacked. You can go into the pages through transparent areas or areas in applications that open up to more layers of environments. If all goes well, it will be fullscreen (adjustable), optionally available on your desktop so you can incorporate local and remote media, and will publish an FLV for distribution. It will also let you read in YouTube videos which was a limitation of a previous version of Flash.

SHARED COMMON EVENTS
For this to happen, there are some technical issues. Zen Mix and interactive mixers are possible because of Flash and its ability to load in other flash files. There are cross domain issues on occasion and a standard or a policy of how these will be handled will help people mix interactive works. Also, some legacy code while working independently will not work within other files due primarily to using a root reference. This can be fixed quite easily by locking the root in older code but requires editing.

More importantly, there are issues of transparency and event handling. When a user clicks or rolls over an area does the application on top pass the click or roll event through to the next layer. Flash can have transparent areas that will let the click pass through. But there are more than mouse events. Imagine that an animation is finished playing – that is an event. Or the user is increasing the volume of a sound. If your application broadcasts this event then the other interactive applications could subscribe to the event and do something like zoom in on a picture as the sound is increased. Reaching the end of an animation might change a blend mode or launch another application, etc.

So we need a set of guidelines for interactive works so that people can more easily work in layers of different interactive features. This could take on the form of an interface or an API. But rather than concentrating on a data and method API this should be an event API and perhaps more importantly a common event API to handle:

  • Click
  • DoubleClick
  • Timer
  • MouseMove
  • Press
  • Release
  • KeyPress
  • KeyRelease
  • Load
  • Unload
  • Focus
  • Blur
  • Start
    • animation
    • video
    • sound
  • Complete
    • animation
    • video
    • sound
  • Change
    • volume
    • frame
    • motionX
    • motionY
    • motionZ
    • width
    • height
    • depth
    • transparency
    • blend
    • selection

A variety of common states might be good too to handle modal issues, etc.

Then when these interactive works get put into Zen Mix or an interactive mixer, various properties and connections can be set so that triggered events from one application calls a method or sets a property in another application. This could be a one off thing like a load event. Or it could be an event that calls over an interval – like a mouse move or a change event.

THE PAST
Zen Picture (2004) was probably the first application in which I brought in a second interactive tool (Opartica 2001) and realized that mixing these was interesting. I ran into problems as the panning event of Zen Picture and the subsequent zooming within Zen Picture prevented interaction with the inner tool. Since then, I have used Opartica, Zen Picture and Zen Pan (2005) within Zen Mix for various psychedelic dancing as exercise episodes.

THE FUTURE
The designer of an interactive mix might be a story teller, artist or programmer for a story teller or artist (or one in the same person) would then set up stories or modules for stories. These could be like rooms, chapters, tools, tasks, puzzles, games, mazes, presentations, worlds, realities – cyberspace. Of course a prime element of a mix is another mix.

Aspects of Meta can readily be explored leading to more interest in the topics of the philosophy of Nodism. Nodism takes our understanding of XML (the current way to share organized data) and Object Oriented Programming (how we model life in games an simulations) and proposes a single hierarchy that nests us all.

Dan Zen Gives Pecha Kucha Talk on Focuso at FITO, Toronto Flash User Group

November 30, 2007

Focuso FITO Talk

Inventor, Dan Zen gave a Pecha Kucha talk Nov 28th, 2007 at FITO the Toronto Flash user group, largest of its kind in the world: http://www.flashinto.com. The event was packed and was held at the Pixel Gallery in Kensington Market, Toronto – (Element156 – Digital Media Center, 156 Augusta Avenue Just North of Dundas, Just West of Spadina – a great gallery to check out!)

Pecha Kucha, apparently Japanese for chit-chat involves showing 20 slides for 20 seconds each, traditionally with a format of no speaking or sound – however, we have westernized it to include speaking and sound. The gist of Dan Zen’s Pecha Kucha is as follows:

Focuso Pecha Kucha Talk

http://www.danzen.com/focusotalk/

As interactive designers and developers, we often build features with a foreground and a background where the content for the foreground is created by the user.  We design the background or the environment.

If the foreground is considered in focus, the background might be considered out of focus. It is the context for the content.

Focuso is the art and philosophical aspect of out of focus or Focus out – Focuso. In particular, it can be demonstrated by photographs that are purposely out of focus for artistic reason.

This Pecha Kucha talk shows how Focuso has been used in a number of Dan Zen features, often as background, yet it stands alone as an art form as the pictures to the right attest.

It is hoped that the samples will encourage designers and developers to think about focus as a way to handle background much like we drop opacity. These days, with the blur filter in Flash, it is very easy to do – but of course, there is always the camera!

Dan Zen

http://www.danzen.com
mad inventor
meets Internet
finds peace

Professor & Industry Liaison,
Sheridan Interactive Multimedia
http://imm.sheridanc.on.ca
Canadian New Media Awards Programmer of the Year 2002

Focuso.org
Dan Zen Flickr


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